This renowned desperado, this bloody cutthroat, this merciless pirate possessed a home—a quiet little English home on the Cornwall coast, where the cheerful woods and fields stretched down almost in reach of the sullen sea. Here dwelt his wife, quiet Mistress Thatch, and here his brawny daughter. Seldom a word came to this rural home from the father, burning and robbing, sinking and slaying out upon the western seas. But from the stores of pelf which so often slipped so easily into his great arms, and which so often slipped just as easily out of them, came now and then something to help the brawn grow upon his daughter’s bones and to ease the labours of his wife.
Eliza Thatch bore no resemblance to a houri; her hair was red, her face was freckled; she had enough teeth left to do good eating with when she had a chance, and her step shook the timbers of her little home.
Her father had heard from her a little while ago by a letter she had had conveyed to Belize. His parental feelings, notwithstanding he had told Bonnet he knew no such sentiments, were stirred. When he had finished her letter he would have been well pleased to burn a vessel and make a dozen passengers walk the plank as a memorial to his girl. But this not being convenient, it had come to him that he would marry the wench to the gaily bedecked young fellow he had captured, and it filled his reckless heart with a wild delight. He drew his cutlass, and with a great oath he drove the heavy blade into the top of the table, and he swore by this mark that his grand plan should be carried out.
He would sail over to England; this would be a happy chance, for his vessel was unladen and ready for any adventure. He would drop anchor in the quiet cove he knew of; he would go ashore by night; he would be at home again. To be at home again made him shout with profane laughter, the little home he remembered would be so ridiculous to him now. He would see again his poor little trembling wife—she must be gray by now—and he was sure that she would tremble more than ever she did when she heard the great sea oaths which he was accustomed to pour forth now. And his daughter, she must be a strapping wench by this time; he was sure she could stand a slap on the back which would kill her mother.
Yes, there should be a wedding, a fine wedding, and good old rum should water the earth. And he would detail a boat’s crew of jolly good fellows from the Revenge to help make things uproarious. This Charter boy and Eliza should have a house of their own, with plenty of money—he had more funds in hand than ever in his life before—and his respectable son-in-law should go to London and deposit his fortune in a bank. It would be royal fun to think of him and Eliza highly respectable and with money in the bank. A quart of the best rum could scarcely have made Blackbeard more hilarious than did this glorious notion. He danced among his crew; he singed beards; he whacked with capstan bars; he pushed men down hatchways; he was in lordly spirits, and his crew expected some great adventure, some startling piece of deviltry.